Green Property Management: Cleaning Products for Multifamily Buildings
Multifamily property owners and managers may not realize the impact that cleaning products have on the environment and their tenants. Certain processes and ingredients can significantly impact indoor air quality and the health of residents. It's important (and easy!) to educate yourself and your residents on the benefits of green cleaning.
Living in a multifamily building significantly reduces one’s carbon footprint. Fewer resources are needed to accommodate more people, less energy is used for heating and cooling, and shared recreational areas use less water and maintenance resources than single family homes. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, households in apartment buildings with over five units use about half as much energy as other types of homes!
Another area where multifamily living can produce environmental benefits is through the use of effective, efficient cleaning processes and green cleaning products. Cleaners containing chlorine bleach or ammonia have high acute toxicity and produce fumes that can decrease the quality of life for residents with allergies or asthma. Other ingredients, such as fragrances, can irritate eyes, nose, throat and lungs and cause respiratory irritation, headaches, and sneezing. These ingredients are particularly harmful in elderly housing units where residents suffer from higher rates of lung and heart problems.
So it's important for the environment and human health that building owners and managers be conscious of the cleaning products used by their maintenance staff. Consider implementing a green cleaning policy for common areas in multifamily units. Include the use of cleaning and paper products that meet Greenseal standards or have an EcoLogo certification, along with sustainability criteria for cleaning equipment when it's time to be replaced.
Then, take your commitment to green cleaning to the next level by educating residents on the environmental and health impacts of the products they're using. Share the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services searchable household products database, where residents can see health and toxicity ratings to determine if the products they're using are safe. Another resource is Good Housekeeping's list of the most effective green cleaners, including the best dish detergents, laundry detergents, and all-purpose cleaners.
Finally, actively promote these green household cleaning products of choice. Suggest tenants consider them for use in their individual units through your newsletter or a flyer, poster or email. With these resources in hand, creating a green, healthy environment will be easier and cheaper than you or your residents may think!